Iran took its case against the United States to the United Nations on Wednesday and strongly condemned the top U.S. military chief for saying military action remains a possibility if the country develops nuclear weapons.
Iran's acting U.N. ambassador Eshagh Alehabib claimed in letters circulated to the secretary-general and presidents of the Security Council and General Assembly that Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other U.S. officials and lawmakers "threatened" to use military action under the "totally false" pretense that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Mullen said earlier this month that the U.S. military has a plan to attack Iran, although he thinks a military strike is probably a bad idea. Still, he said the risk of Iran developing a nuclear weapon is unacceptable and he reiterated that "the military option" remains on the table.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Wednesday that Iran's response to an attack would not be limited to the region, suggesting Iran would target U.S. interests beyond the Persian Gulf.
"It's unlikely that they (U.S.) will make such a stupidity (to attack Iran) but all must know that if this threat is carried out, the field of the Iranian nation's confrontation will not be only our region," Khamenei told state TV. "The area of confrontation will be much wider."
He also said there will be no talks with the U.S. under the shadow of threats.
Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, apparently was referring to recent calls by the U.S. and other key powers for Iran to resume talks on its nuclear program following the U.N. Security Council's recent vote imposing a fourth set of sanctions against the country for refusing to halt uranium enrichment.
The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to build nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the allegations, saying its nuclear program is geared merely toward generating electricity, not bombs.
Alehabib said the United States was using threatening language that violates international law and the U.N. Charter and goes against "global efforts to strengthen regional and international peace and security." He reiterated that Iran "would not hesitate to act in self-defense to respond to any attack."
Khamenei said negotiations would be possible if the U.S. stops making threats against Iran, and he set conditions for it.
"If the U.S. puts aside threats, sanctions and its superpower display and refuses to set goals for the talks, then there will be a possibility of talks. But under the present conditions and given the threats and pressures, no talks with be held at all," Khamenei was quoted as saying.
Khamenei also said Iran will not give up its nuclear activities.
"The U.S. and some Western countries have no logic in this issue and the Islamic Republic of Iran will never give up the cycle of nuclear fuel," state TV quoted him as saying.
The U.S. and five key powers — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — have been trying to revive talks with Iran on its nuclear program and have offered a package of incentives if Tehran freezes uranium enrichment and resumes negotiations.
In late July, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said nuclear talks with the six powers would start in early September, regardless of conditions he set in June, but Khamenei's comments raise questions about the timetable. Iran has also said it wants to revive separate talks involving Tehran, Washington, Paris and Moscow on a fuel swap for Tehran's research nuclear reactor.
Associated Press Writer Ali Akbar Dareini contributed to this report from Tehran, Iran.
© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.